Sound of Rain
Hands against the foggy glass, Ian looks out watching the drips cascade down the bay window in his apartment. Slowly falling, the rain makes the sandy hair boy laugh as lightening dances in the surly clouds. He pulls away flapping his hands and rubs them on his face. A celebration of some sort, one that his lover never truly understood but empathizes in a way. Ian flapped again bouncing on his toes, swaying to the rolling roar of the thunder. A May storm always gives him such delight. A fixation that Mattie let him indulge him in once in a while; ridged schedules, planning things in advance, and a life of routine left their lives little room for things like spontaneity. Mattie couldn’t always go parties he was invited too, he left work early sometimes to deal with incidents. His life has been route and organized. All to keep Ian at peace in a sea of noise and faces, if one thing goes out of balance. There was chaos.
And people do ask: “Why do you even bother?”
The answer wasn’t simply “because I love him”, though that is part of the answer. For Matthias Shepard, life was as sea of noises and faces too. There was no reprieve for him; he went through life feeling though the ocean of emotions and thoughts constantly drowning in them. Every day, he was drowning and on one cold January evening, that is when he found an island. Ian Farthing was that island. A man who spent his life living with siblings, parents and at one point in a men’s home; never really having a place of belonging. He was a burden to some, a liability to others, but Mattie saw him differently. Telepathy with a secondary talent of empathic awareness, are heavy weights to wear. And since people never shield, he was always privy their intents, to their feelings, to their secrets. It was maddening for Mattie. Ian being autistic was relief from that. His mind functions so differently that picking up emotions was foggy and hard to pin point and telepathy was equally hard. His thoughts were various word-pictures, sounds, smells. They were in differently complex patterns that are hard to cipher though. It was perfect peace. He wasn’t open and naked like the others. He wasn’t a pulsing mass of ethos. Finally Mattie found someone that he could truly get to know, talk to, and discover.
Ian found peace with Mattie. Shoved aside by family members who saw him as a non-person; Ian found himself with little control over his life. It wasn’t until his sister Jane saw his landscapes, and then people started to care. Not about him, of course not. Just of what he could produce. Rich and vibrant fields, busy streets and stormy evenings; the latter is his favorite. Watercolor was his medium of choice and spent many of his days holed up in his room painting. Only eating when made to and only leaving the room when he had to piss. Ian spoke to his sister in the same short clipped voice explaining in great detail what he trying to say in his paintings. He went on about techniques and new methods, watercolor vs. gouache and things that Jane couldn’t give a damn about. But he made money. And greed was strong in her. So against his own needs, she made him do tours, sell in pricy galleries and showcases, dragging him around like a dancing poodle. It was that January when Ian was showing his watercolor paintings in gallery opening, the one that Mattie was at.
Swaying side to side, Mattie found a shaggy hair main with wide rectangular glasses staring at a painting of a sunset from a roof top. Mattie was drawn to him, while trying to escape the environmental noise and the psychic noise too. It was quiet where Ian was. Surprised, Mattie stood next to him. Pushing back his long black hair he took a sip of the chardonnay and started a conversation.
“Nice contrast, I like how the red bleeds like that against the start black.”
“Oh. Thank you. Took me months to get that,” responded the swaying man.
“You’re the artist? You’re Ian Farthing?” Mattie raised an eyebrow and turned to Ian with a fascinated look he is so….silent. I can’t pick out any outward resonance from him. It’s like he turned off or damped his emotions. I can’t pick them up. Mattie offered his hand to Ian, a smile forming on his tanned face.
“Matthias Shepard, it is an honor to meet the talent behind these paintings.” Ian carefully shook his hand. Mattie’s hand swallowed the clammy artist’s, and he had to actually concentrate for once to pick up a resonance. He hates it here, he doesn’t want to be here I get those emotions, but his thoughts there are, images, some are words…but I can’t translate them right away. This…this is incredible. He’s a Dampener. Those are hard to find. Shaking his hand for a moment, Mattie turned back to the painting.
“Does it mean anything?” he asked, Ian’s response was simple:
“It was just a practice piece using some new tubes, but I guess people can stick whatever meaning they want to it.”
“It looks…somber almost. Like there is a kind of dinginess to it, but seriously; what does it mean to you? “
“It’s isolation. Feeling of being cut out from society. The roof has nothing on it, it’s bare and void and sun as its setting casting a glow to it; almost if it’s judging it.”
“Do people judge you Ian?”
Ian looked at Mattie with a hurt look, “Of course. I am autistic. Of course they judge.” Mattie was going to probe deeper when a stern blonde woman walked up to them. She ushered Ian way saying that some folks wanted to buy a piece from him. Mattie looked at the title of the painting that they were discussing. It was entitled: Scathing Glare.
The months that followed ebbed and flowed. Mattie spent evenings visiting Ian, at his studio. Bringing meals to him when he forgot eat. Watching him paint and the conversations dripped down like steady rain. Mattie explained to him that he was only child, and grew up rather sheltered. It was only when he hit middle school things began to change. His psychic powers manifested and nothing was ever the same after that. Ian seemed interested about it. He has met some “psychics” in his life. Most of them were just empaths that were good at cold reading. True telepaths were hard to come by and meeting one for real, was quite an opportunity. Ian started to feel a strong connection to Mattie after spending several evenings, and afternoons with him. He started to take more breaks from paintings and started visiting him at his clinic where he practiced. He made an effort more to try new things and slowly Mattie watched him come out of his shell. He was vibrant and exuberant about everything. Paintings of Ian had richness that Mattie noticed more. Real happiness, and as the months that followed from carefully nurturing the relationship that they have sowed together, the happiness flourished.
Getting Ian off of Jane’s hands however was not simple as Mattie thought. Before Ian moved in, Jane struggled to keep Ian for herself afraid her little hen will not lay any golden eggs for her. Yet Ian convinced her that he can give her some of his money he made from commissions and galleries to her once a month. Deal placated her, and without that complication, Mattie and Ian can begin their lives together.
It wasn’t always perfect. Mattie knew what was he was getting into with having a relationship with an autistic. The beds have to be always made or Ian will rant and be surly for hours. If they were late for a gallery show or a meeting or anything, Ian will panic. Mattie was patient and rational but even his own patience was tried when they got into spats. Mostly out of miscommunication than malice. Explaining things over and over was exhausting. Still despite the rough spots in their relationship. Things sometimes seamlessly flow together. Ian was tirelessly observant, Mattie often comes home late and dinner would be prepared for him. Small paintings of flowers and fresh fruit will be in his briefcase and the simple peace of them just together in the apartment was fact enough on how much it was worth it. Living with Ian took effort but all good things take effort.
In Ian’s case, Mattie was also a challenge. Like autistic symptoms, psychic powers also have its set of inferences. Ian can tolerate crowds as he was use to them in the gallery parties. Mattie can only tolerate them for an hour or so, before he started to break down and hide to escape the constant sea of resonance. Movie theaters were out of the question. Mattie had a hard time eating out too. Because even the food has resonance and nothing killed the mood more than trying to eat a steak with the sound of mooing and the crackle of static from a stun gun(One of the reasons Mattie often went vegetarian). So it goes without saying that eating out was once in a while and only if Mattie wards from various resonances and impressions. When Ian had enough of people and the mask of “normalcy” falls off; he shuts down, rocking back and forth and hands over his eyes. He will scream and try to run away. When Mattie gets over loaded, he gets violent. He made damn sure never to show that side to Ian. Until one afternoon…
It was another gallery show outside of town at someone’s property. It was warm and bright and Ian was more involved with the guests than use to be. Shaking hands and showing them some of his new pieces. Mattie was oddly more worn that day. Quiet as he followed his lover behind him watching with proud but tired expression on his face; happy to see him so social for once. He took a beer from the cooler and walked outside to get a break from the party and drank on lawn he found himself wandering to an area outside of the man celebration when felt a wave of psychic energy. He furrowed his brow as he touched a hammer that lay in the grass next to a tree stump. A sick feeling welled up in Mattie as he rolled his eyes back seeing an image two men beating the shit out of another man. Words and slurs were being thrown around muddled with the hazy image. Mattie choked back his nausea as the boy who was probably gay was beaten by two men, high school age. Dropping the hammer Mattie staggered back, beer left in grass by the weapon. He had no idea if the boy lived, or not. He didn’t stick around to find out. His own mask dropped off as he stormed to the car not noticing that Ian was behind him. His grey eyes filled with concern.
“Mattie? What is wrong, you lo-“Mattie whirled around to strike whomever was behind him, but Ian caught his fist. Grey eyes now filled with deeper concern. “What the fuck happened? What did you see or pick up?”
“Back off Ian, I just need space.”
“No you’re going to calm down first. You’re seething, what happened?” Ian was insistent and didn’t let go of Mattie. Both of them looked back for a second before getting into the Jetta.
“I picked up something in the back of the place, some kid got beat to shit.” Mattie admitted rubbing his face. “We need to go now. We can’t be here.”
“Do you want to tell the police or something?” Ian tried to help.
“No I just want to fucking go! I am tired to death of being here.” Snapped Mattie
“Mattie we can-“ Mattie fell into the resonance loosing himself to the impressions he found. Everything feel away from him nothing was stable or real anymore as he found himself looking into the eyes of the boy that was beaten, Ian didn’t even finished his sentence when Mattie let out a deluge of words anger flavored them like hot sauce. Ian couldn’t process them fast enough but without thinking, he grabbed Mattie’s shoulders and forced him to look at him.
“Stop! Breathe. Now. Push back the onslaught. I am gonna talk to the host, I am gonna get to the bottom of this. We will go home, get out of the ocean Mattie you will drown.” Ian solid words, and own dampening ability stopped the resonance from continuing. Mattie took a breath and managed to put himself back together.
“Right you do that Ian. I am going to chill out here for a while ok?” Mattie said wearily as Ian slowly got out of the car and walked back to the house. Mattie rubbed his face as tried to hold on his mind. He needed Ian more than Ian realized.
Bringing himself out of that memory he watched Ian rocked to the sound of rain and heavy thunder. Mattie got up from his seat in the living room and put down his laptop. Coffee in one hand and idea in his head he got Ian’s attention.
“Hey, Ian c’mere.” He said as he put his coffee down. Ian laughed and joined him in his favorite chair looking outside the window, still engaged to the conversation.
“Something on your mind?”
“Yeah Ian” there was a pause, “what do you think about the phrase ‘high functioning’?”
“It makes no sense honestly, but in what context?”
“What about in the autistic sense?” asked Ian sipping his coffee letting the mellow flavor relax him as Ian took his time thinking.
“I still think it makes no sense. I am only considered high functioning because I can talk, but most folks look at us and they don’t see a gay couple. Most people think you’re my brother and get shocked when I kiss you in public. Rest of the word sees me as, semi-functioning or something. They notice my disability and see it as a flaw. You’re not even high functioning at all and they call your disability a god-damn gift.” Ian rambled.
“You don’t think I am ‘high functioning’?” laughed Mattie.
“Generally, you can pass. But I know you struggle daily to keep from falling into whatever resonances or psychic entropy you find. You get sick and you tire easily. I take care of you more than you take care of me Mattie. I mean. I don’t want to seem like I am complaining. This is just my-“
“Observation, I know,” finished Mattie, “I know you’re not trying to be hurtful. So many people see the relationship as one sided. Some even think I am taking advantage of you, but you’re right Ian. It’s the other way around. Sometimes you get lost in environment yourself. Sound drowns you but you always manage to bring yourself out of it. If I start to drown, I can’t seem to pull myself out.” Mattie drank his coffee quiet now.
“The sounds of rain Mattie, people hear the rain and are calmed by it. But when I hear it I am driven. I want to rock, flap, dance, spin in circles. We all respond to the world differently. I don’t think that means you’re a high functioning psychic or low functioning one. It means you respond to the sound of rain differently. I can’t tell you how to dance to it. But one day, you will find your rhythm to it.”